This week’s introduction of 100% ‘e-ticketing’ by airlines, in accordance with the International Air Transport Association’s electronic format ticketing system, has been warmly welcomed by Hogg Robinson Group as it will mean all travellers will now reap the benefits of a faster, more economic and efficient service. HRG commends the efforts made by the airlines, airport authorities and other relevant bodies to communicate this message and accommodate the total migration of travellers to e-ticketing. However, HRG stresses that following the change in procedure all suppliers need to continue to communicate the change to clients, especially the approximate 6% of travellers who do not already use e-ticketing.
The new system will deliver significant cost and environmental savings for the industry. A ticket will now cost just US$1 to produce compared to US$10 for a traditional ticket - saving the industry approximately $3 billion per year. However the changes will deliver the greatest benefits to travellers - removing elements of risk inherent in the previous system and creating a better audit trail for corporate travellers. At a time when the price of fuel has sky-rocketed, HRG sees such savings as an essential step in maintaining the competitiveness of airlines and minimising the costs being passed onto travellers. The electronic system will also automatically link travellers’ baggage to their itinerary and generate refunds on unused tickets which will deliver savings that currently are not always recouped.
Commenting on the new e-ticketing procedure, Stewart Harvey, Director of Client Management at HRG said: “We fully support the new system. as it will act as a trigger for further automation to be introduced in the form of shared-carrier check-in kiosks, boarding pass bar-coding and electronic baggage tagging. All of these measures should result in shorter waiting times, increased efficiency and savings which will enhance the traveller’s overall experience.”
Since 2002 HRG has worked extensively with IATA to make sure that the industry as a whole is prepared for the phasing out of the traditional ticketing system. Internally, HRG has tried and tested contingency plans, including the issue of authorisation documents for any airline which was unable to implement the system on 01 June deadline, ensuring that HRG’s clients which could be affected by the change would still be able to travel.
Harvey went on to comment: “Over the last two years HRG has spearheaded several internal initiatives to create ‘virtual’ and ‘paperless’ ticketing procedures designed to introduce service teams to the new processes. We are confident that all staff are comfortably able to field any queries our clients might have.”
The changes are part of IATA’s drive to ‘Simplify the Business’, which aims to improve the travel experience and become more cost efficient. However, a minority of airlines are not yet ready for the e-ticket migration and those which are not in a position to comply fully with the process need to be clear with both their travellers and the industry as to what methods they will be adopting until such time as they are ready.